Orientating my hive / garden planning

Hi all,

I’m getting my flow hive in February, and this will be my first beehive. I have support from a local beekeeper who’s very keen to help me set it up and manage it so she can see how it works herself while I learn, but I wondered if I could pick your brains?

I’m trying to work out my garden plan for our new house which we move to in 3 weeks, and am thinking about the best position for the hive, and also how to set it up in that area. I’ve attached the draft plan with the location of the beehive indicated by the red arrow. This is east/west orientation (do bees have a preference of which way their entrance faces?). I’m in New Zealand and our coldest winds come from the south. I’d have the hive entrance facing the west side of the garden (which is the back of the section).

I was thinking of putting it on a paved area because I figure I’ll be watching it and around it so often that I’m quite likely to turn grass to mud in winter. The south fence is quite high, around 1.8m, and I’ll also be planting some trees/ shrubs to further break up our cold southerly winds, and thought I’d also make life really easy for the bees and plant a range of flowering wildflowers etc right around their hive. On the plan you can see the area we intend to keep mowed - the plan being to let the grass at the rear of the section grow as it will, and this will likely be fenced off so our chooks and bunny can free-range in this area when we’re around.

I know the bees need some clearance area around their entrance because this is where they defecate and drop dead bee carcases, so the paving should also help because I’m able to sweep or wash it clean - right? I’m a little worried it might overheat in summer though because of course the sun will heat up the pavers (this should help them in winter). The hive in this position will get all day sun in summer, and at least 6 hours a day in winter.

I’d love your feedback.

Thanks in advance,

So on this map your house is on the east side and the south wind is blocked by the fence behind it?? Is that correct? Or does the arrow also show the direction of the wind??

Nice looking area. Could you face the hive NE so the entrance can be seen from the house? They would get the morning sun as well

What temperatures are you likely to reach in the summer. That will determine if they will need some shade or not. They are pretty good at regulating temperature so long as it doesn’t raise to significantly.

Hi Valli, that’s correct. The black arrow points north. I thought about pointing them NE but I would prefer they fly away from the house as they gain height (I don’t mind them foraging near the house, but would prefer the main flight path wasn’t in that direction, if I can help it). I’m likely to have lots of people coming to check out the hive and my husband and I want to have children, so we’ll probably be putting a guard fence up around the entrance side to prevent little fingers poking in the entrance holes - that would be nicest away from the house so we can look at the hive back (with viewing window and honey taps) without having the view or access obstructed.

Hope that makes sense.

If that is the case face it N or NW still may be able to see the entrance from the house at an angle but flight path over the flower beds

Hi Adagna,

Summer air temperatures reach about 32degC maximum, but this will be a hot spot in the garden so could be even higher. I was wondering if a removable trellis on the north side to just provide ‘dappled’ light on the hive in the height of summer might be the way to go, then I can take it off in autumn/winter/spring so there’s more direct sun. Winter minimum temperatures are about -2degC overnight, winter day temps are about 10 - 18degC depending on the current weather system. What do you think?


The inside of the hive is ideally 35ºC from the body temperature of the bees to keep the brood warm - I shouldn’t worry.

If you are talking 40+ºC then rig a coolgardie

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Thanks Valli, it shouldn’t get to 40degC here. I have a weather station though so I might put a sensor near the hive and just monitor the temps when I get it set up to make sure. Any suggestions on the presence / colour of pavers?

My area is getting trampled by my hives, eventually I will have it paved. Just make it pretty. Looks like your going to do a nice job. We need to see piccies when it’s done

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Thanks Valli, I’ll definitely be documenting the journey in pictures and happy to share. :smile:

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There are 2 considerations that I have to offer. #1 The bees are attracted to lights, so you need the entrance facing away from any of yours or your neighbors lights. #2 You don’t want the entrance facing where people walk or where you mow.


My 2 cents: You will want to do your hive inspections (brood, comb building, etc.) from the rear of the hive so that you don’t stand directly in the path of the foragers. Therefore, leave yourself some room there to work. Also, you may want to talk to your local beekeeper about getting a “Nuc” started in your summer (December), so that you have a nice colony started when the FlowHive arrives in February. You’ll probably start a second hive when you get the hang of things; keep that in the back of your mind also :smile:

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what Jeff said about lights- some bees stay near the entrance at night- and if they can see a light they may be attracted to it in summer. Then they may come inside the house at night if a door or window is open. Last summer I had quite a few nights where bees came to visit.

also another thing at this stage: make sure you decide on great location and st up your base well. You don’t want to be changing your mind later on and moving or adjusting a hive. Be sure to make the base exactly level especially if you are planning to use foundation-less frames. the bees build via gravity and if the slope is off just a few degrees- then all you natural combs will be too.

EDIT: I only just noticed this information is about 1 year too late…

You have designed a nice architecture of your home and garden as well. My cousin who lives in Sydney has also got her her home and garden renovated few months back. I was very much surprised and amazed by the new look of her garden, that was really amazing. She told me about the gardeningnorthside.com.au team, who helped her in making her garden look more beautiful. The team work was really great. And I think an experienced faculty can handle such things in a much better way.